UN: Israel Admits Claims About Attacked School Baseless

International Outrage Can Safely Resume as Israel Backs off Allegations

by Jason Ditz, January 07, 2009

UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness reported this evening that the Israeli army is privately briefing diplomats on the fact that its previous claims about their attack on a UN-run girls’ school in the Gaza Strip, which caused over 100 civilian casualties, were baseless.

The attack occurred yesterday, when Israeli mortars deliberately fired three shells at the school, which was filled with hundreds of displaced civilians at the time, killing at least 46 and wounding 55 others. As international outrage began to well over the enormous civilian toll of the attack, Israel declared the killings “according to procedures” and claimed Hamas had fired rockets from the school’s courtyard, making the attack on hundreds of innocent civilians self-defense.

Much was made of the claim, including reports that Israel was mulling filing a formal complaint to the United Nations about Hamas’ use of the facility. But as the United Nations poked holes in the official story, Israel is now backing off those claims.

And while Israel had previously claimed to have had proof to back up its story, Gunness says the military is now conceding that the mortar fire they previously claimed came from the school came from elsewhere in the refugee camp. Though Israel is trying to keep its admission of guilt relatively quiet (far more quiet than its allegations that the killings were justified) it will doubtless pay a further price in the court of international public opinion for having once again deliberately targeted a building full of innocent civilians.

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